MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
March 17, 2021
The following were present:
DIRECTORS: SANDY FIGUERS
ANGELA RAMIREZ HOLMES
MICHELLE SMITH MCDONALD
DIRECTORS ABSENT: NONE
ZONE 7 STAFF: VALERIE PRYOR, GENERAL MANAGER
OSBORN SOLITEI, TREASURER/ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER, FINANCE
JARNAIL CHAHAL, ENGINEERING MANAGER
CAROL MAHONEY, INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGER
LIRA WALTER, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: SCOTT SHAPIRO, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 - Closed Session
a. Government Code section 54957(b); Public Employee Performance Evaluation: Title: General Manager
b. Conference with Legal Counsel - Existing litigation pursuant to Gov't Code section 54956.9(d) (1): (1) City and County of San Francisco v. County of Alameda (Contra Costa County Superior Court Action No. MSN18-0928)
c. Conference with Legal Counsel - Potential initiation of litigation pursuant to Gov't Code section 54956.9(d) (4): 1 case
d. Conference with Legal Counsel - Anticipated litigation pursuant to Gov't Code section 54956.9(d) (2): 1 case
The Board went into Closed Session at 5:00 p.m. and came out at 7:10 p.m.
Item 2 - Open Session and Report Out of Closed Session
Reportable actions taken in Closed Session were moved before Item 8.
Item 3 -
3. Call Meeting to Order
President Sanwong called the meeting to order at 7:16 p.m. Roll call was taken, and all directors were present.
Item 4 -
4. Citizens Forum
Citizen of the public Kelly A. spoke about development impact fees for grading, paving, road construction and building construction within Zone 7. He suggested coordinating with other agencies, the county, and with cities. In addition to public reports reflecting a routine analysis of the aerial imagery to cross reference development taking place with permits and fees. The impact fee ordinance may need to be revised by the Board to mandate the collection of fees even for development projects constructed without building or grading permits. He asked for the Board to consider redoing its fees and ordinances.
President Sanwong then closed Public Comment.
Item 5 -
Director Palmer moved to approve Item 5a and Director Gambs seconded the motion. Item 5a was approved by a voice vote of 7-0.
Director Smith McDonald moved to approve Item 5b and Director Palmer seconded the motion. Item 5b was approved by a voice vote of 6-0-1, with Director Ramirez Holmes abstaining.
Item 6 -
6. Consent Calendar
Director Ramirez Holmes moved to approve Item 6a and Item 6b, and Director Palmer seconded the motion. The items were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 21-12 Authorization to Contract with Western Area Power Administration (Item No. 6a)
Resolution No. 21-13 Contract Amendment for Construction Management Services for the DVWTP Ozonation Project (Item 6b)
Item 7 -
7. Award of Professional Services Contract for a Flood Management Plan Phase I and a Project Management Contract for the Project
Valerie Pryor, General Manager, explained that this was for the award of two contracts: a Professional Service Contract for a Flood Management Phase 1, and a Project Management Contract for the Flood Management Plan Phase 1. The item was in support of the Strategic Plan Initiative 10 to update the Flood Protection Strategy. During 2020, the Board received presentations from consulting firm Larsen Wurzel & Associates, Inc., who specializes in flood protection. They focus on a high-level assessment of the agency's flood protection policies and the current overall flood protection system. The Board had previously discussed and supported the recommendation to pursue a new flood management plan, which will incorporate existing information with a contemporary approach to the 2006 Stream Management Master Plan. It will focus on flood protection goals and climate change. It would also look for opportunities to engage with partner agencies during the development and expand engagement within the community. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was done and two were received. A rating team was convened, which consisted of one representative each of the cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton, Santa Clara Valley Water District for its strong flood protection component, and Zone 7. HDR Engineering Inc. was recommended to be the team most suited for the project. This was based on their previous work experience, assigned personnel, and their work on developing strategic flood planning. Ms. Pryor indicated that some of the notes from the rating panel were that HDR has a strong and robust policy, outreach history, varied experience in difficult issues, and could speak to nontechnical audiences. They demonstrated experience working with complex projects and plans and could effectively interact with elected officials and staff. They also have experience on similar projects, which include the development and delivery of three Central Valley Flood Protection Plan Updates, and the development of the lower Sacramento River Delta North Regional Flood Management Plan. The report included a summary of the various work tasks which are expected to take 15 months to complete.
A contract with HDR for the Flood Management Plan Phase 1 was recommended. Additionally, Project Management Services with Larsen Wurzel & Associates, Inc. which would include project management assistance to staff during the development of the Flood Management Plan, agency coordination, representation regarding flood risk management matters, and an independent review of the HDR work projects when necessary. They could also, on request, represent Zone 7 and coordinate with federal, state, and local agencies on behalf of agency. Ms. Pryor welcomed questions and comments.
Director Gambs was excited to move forward with the consultant to put together a new plan for the Tri-Valley.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked if it was unusual or concerning to only receive two proposals. Director Figuers said no because this was a very specialized field. Ms. Pryor noted that each of the two proposals consisted of a team of firms. Eric Nagy of Larsen Wurzel & Associates, Inc., reiterated that the proposals were comprised of multiple firms. At best, three or four proposals would be expected with not all of them being particularly responsive. In this case, two proposals were received and were both very strong by well-qualified teams which made the selection panel's work difficult.
Director Smith McDonald appreciated that the stakeholder groups assisted in providing extra perspective, and the inclusion of Santa Clara Valley Water District to provide insight seemed very helpful. She asked if this was typically done. Ms. Pryor stated that this was her first RFP; however, it varied on a case-by-case basis. She felt that it was important to include representatives from the agency's stakeholders and an independent third party. Osborn Solitei, Treasurer/Assistant General Manager, Finance, stated that the agency would normally reach out to its retailers, but this was done beyond the normal process.
President Sanwong welcomed questions and comments from the public.
Kelly A. found it interesting that Santa Clara Valley Water District would be one of the partners. The agency's water drains into Alameda Creek, through the Arroyo de la Laguna, then it goes into Alameda County Flood Control District. He felt that Alameda County Flood Control District would have a natural and physical interest in the flood protection. He then said that 40% of the funding for the project is coming from the Impact Fee. He touched on the sedimentation that occurs further downstream; dead trees and logs that cause flooding in Sunol and create problems farther downstream. He felt that these factors should be considered separately in the funding and plans. Coordinating with the other agencies on the funding and building permits is also important.
Director Smith McDonald clarified that Santa Clara Valley Water District only consulted on the rating process but were not actually involved in the project. Ms. Pryor confirmed. Director Palmer said that was an important point to make because Santa Clara Valley Water District has experience in flood control mechanisms in their system, but they are not direct stakeholders.
Director Ramirez Holmes indicated that the Board does not intend on planning this on its own, and neighboring agencies will be contacted to incorporate engagement during the stakeholder's process. Ms. Pryor added that public engagement of the upcoming process will be key. Mr. Nagy stated that having a diverse selection panel is only the start of ensuring partnership from local agencies in finding solutions throughout the development of the Flood Management Plan.
Director Gambs moved to approve the Award of Professional Services Contract, and Director Palmer seconded the motion. The Resolution was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Director Palmer moved to approve the Project Management Services Contract, and Director Gambs seconded the motion. The Resolution was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 21-14 Award of Professional Services Contract for the Flood Management Plan Phase I
Resolution No. 21-15 Project Management Services Contract for the Flood Management Plan Phase I
Report Out of Closed Session
President Sanwong reported that per the contract with the General Manager, the Board of Directors met during Closed Session and reviewed the General Manager's performance. It was determined that the General Manager has met or exceeded all expectations. The Board also established goals for the next period.
Item 8 -
8. General Manager's Compensation
Director Ramirez Holmes moved to approve Item 8, and Director Palmer seconded the motion. The item was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 21-16 General Manager's Compensation
Item 9 -
9. Reports - Directors
President Sanwong stated that each of the directors received an email with the anti-phishing training, that stemmed from a conversation with Director Green. She asked them to please review the training and stressed the importance of it. President Sanwong had a conversation with the General Manager about IT security at Zone 7 and felt confident that the agency has the proper protocols in place. The conversation was sparked by the recent news story about the cyberattack on the water district serving the Tampa area. She did not recommend reviewing IT protocols during Board meetings for security reasons; however, she suggested a certification process, or a system set up to be verified through a third party. President Sanwong indicated that she would do research through California Special Districts Association (CSDA) or the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), but thought it was important to ensure IT protocols have been reviewed and are meeting security measures.
President Sanwong was pleased with the virtual ACWA DC Conference, which would normally take place in Washington D.C. It provided the opportunity to think about the federal government's role in water. She felt that it was a major part of the California water system and was glad that there were other members of the Board who were able to participate. What takes place in Washington, D.C., and the federal government in terms of water in California ultimately impacts Zone 7.
Director Palmer attended the California Water Commission Meeting where the General Manager was presented during a panel. She indicated Ms. Pryor was very straightforward in her statements and found it quite interesting. The meeting covered the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State Water Project (SWP) updates. PowerPoints can be found on www.water-ca.com. Director Palmer added that many people discussed the importance of the SWP and the water for economic development. She felt that this was something that needed to be taken seriously in trying to be sustainable for the future.
Director Gambs attended the Alameda County Special Districts Association (ACSDA) Meeting which was attended by other special district members in Alameda County. Neil McCormick with CSDA, gave an overview of the nonprofit organization trade association, which is not governmental. He described it as somewhat in parallel with ACWA consisting of members instead of water agencies that are statewide organizations with each county having its own organization. Director Gambs gained a better understanding of the federal advocacy programs that they provide to special districts and felt that there could be opportunities for Zone 7 to take advantage. It was a great organization that also offers training.
Director Ramirez Holmes attended the Dublin Chamber Economic Development Committee when the CEMEX application was being reviewed to the county, in addition to county hearings, and was participating in the ACWA DC Conference. She also attended the ACWA Legislative Symposium, which covered Sacramento and state-based legislation critical state water policy issues, as well as the 2021 Water Affordability Legislation. She felt that this was something that the agency needed to pay attention to because a survey was conducted that estimated 12% of California rate payers have water debts, some of which average at $500. Two bills are being considered regarding the discontinuation of service for nonpayment, as well as an Affordability Program Bill, with the goal that water is a human right, and no Californian should face water shutoffs due to the inability to pay. ACWA was trying to weigh in on which state agency really should implement or oversee this issue, and whether policy solutions for the emergency and/or for the long term should be made to accommodate for COVID arrearages or long-term affordability. It is still unknown how the recently passed federal bill will trickle down to California, but she felt it was important to monitor because it would affect water rates. The Climate Resilience Bond would likely be on the June 2022 ballot. Currently, it is called the Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water Drought Preparation and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022, for $5 billion. $1.47 billion would be allocated for safe drinking water, water supply and water quality, and $970 million to address sea level rise. More polling would take place this month, as it requires passage by the legislature by January 2022 to get on the June ballot. She highlighted the following key points: a third of the Sierra snowpack is estimated not to be there by 2050 due to climate change, only 3% of the state budget deals with natural resources and that it increases with a successful bond passage. She felt that these factors could directly impact the agency, as well as the impacts of inaction, so there is a need to make critical strategic investments to address these problems.
Item 10 -
10. Items for Future Agenda - Directors
President Sanwong shared a conversation with a city council member about the city waiting for Zone 7 to mandate water conservation for the dry year. She asked to discuss how to communicate the current state of the overall water supply, in addition to water conservation programs. She wanted to ensure that city leaders and retailers did not have to wait to hear from Zone 7 about encouraging water conservation to their customers. Ms. Pryor addressed her concerns by explaining that the agency began working on a very aggressive voluntary water conservation campaign that would be rolled out in the spring, which started with Fix a Leak Week. Ms. Pryor recommended to strongly promote voluntary conservation. This was being communicated with the retailers through the communications groups. Staff would be monitoring it closely and will communicate with the Board, retailers, and the community. The agency would also continue focus on water education. Based on water conditions under the agency's Urban Water Management Plan, a state-wide water shortage stage could be declared, which might require mandatory conservation. She felt that the community has always been willing to conserve, so she did not see the need for a mandate from Zone 7, especially amidst the COVID restrictions the public has been receiving over the last year.
Item 11 - Committee Meeting Notes
Lira Walter, Administrative Assistant, read two minor edits requested by Director Green aloud. The Board agreed to move forward with the recommended edits.
Item 12 -
12. Staff Reports (Information items. No action will be taken.)
Ms. Pryor highlighted a few items from the General Manager's Report. A revised Annual Report for fiscal year 2019-2020 was released earlier that day and posted on the website. She said would email PDF copies to the directors after the meeting. The agency switched from a calendar year to an annual year to better match with the budget, CAFR, Strategic Plan reporting, but more importantly it was revised to be much more graphic, and numbers based. She thought the Board would be quite pleased by it and noted that a lot has been accomplished. A press release would also go out, in addition to social media and e-newsletter updates. Like many of the communications pieces, one document is segmented in ways that the information can be repurposed.
Ms. Pryor stated that the agency was awarded a grant of $207,000 from the U.S. Geological Service to acquire high-definition LiDAR of the Alameda Creek Watershed. This is a remote sensing method that is much more precise than what is currently being used. It will be a significant improvement to greatly enhance hydraulic models and analyze location size, volumes, and depths of flooding, and assist with capital flood improvement practice. Director Palmer congratulated staff on getting the grant.
Director Gambs asked if there were any updates on the taste and odor issues that resulted from algae blooms in the Delta. He also inquired if a tunnel or a pipeline through the Delta would eliminate these concerns in the future. Ms. Pryor explained that there are algae blooms in the Delta right now, which have resulted in taste and odor complaints. The agency is utilizing Ozone, which is a much more effective disinfectant, but there will be instances when chlorine is needed at the end and people will notice either the chlorine or mild taste and odor. She was unsure whether Delta Conveyance would resolve these issues and indicated that it was possible, but it would depend on where the algae bloom occurs.
Linda Kelly, a resident of Pleasanton, asked if Zone 7 could notify the public when the algae bloom occurs. President Sanwong indicated that this was communicated with the retailers, but it is challenging because the agency does not communicate directly with the users. Ms. Pryor indicated that the agency is usually 80% aware after complaints are received and knows in advance approximately 20% of the time. There is a notice on the website; however, it is difficult to find so there are plans for regular messaging on algae blooms on the new website. She said that customer complaints were taken seriously, and the agency relies on them for its notices. Jarnail Chahal, Engineering Manager, confirmed. Some algae species were monitored so when those perk up in the Delta there is advance notice because DWR monitors those species. However, this episode is granulated which makes it more difficult to pinpoint what exactly caused the taste and odor issue. The agency does its best to communicate these issues to the retailers as soon as it receives notice.
Item 20 -
President Sanwong adjourned the meeting at 8:09 p.m.